What do you think of when you hear lung cancer? While many may think of lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths, through the availability of lifesaving lung cancer screening, the American Lung Association and its LUNG FORCE initiative are working to make sure the future answer to this question is “hope.” However, if we are to save more lives, we must first raise awareness about lung cancer and the new availability of lung cancer screening.
Screening is key to early detection of lung cancer – when it’s more likely to be curable. In fact, if the disease is caught before it spreads, the likelihood of surviving five years improves from 11 to 55 percent. A low-dose CT scan for those at high risk is the only screening tool that has been found to reduce the lung cancer mortality rate. And, if only half of those at high risk were screened, it is estimated that more than 15,000 lives could be saved.
Currently, screening is underutilized, meaning that lives that could be saved are not. Why is this? To find out, the Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE conducted its 4th annual Lung Health Barometer, a survey of more than 1,400 people, to gauge their awareness and knowledge about lung cancer and lung cancer screening.
What the Lung Health Barometer reveals
Despite the fact that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in America, the Lung Health Barometer found that awareness of lung cancer and lung cancer screening is critically low. Only 15 percent are aware that screening for lung cancer is recommended and covered by Medicare and most healthcare plans at no cost. Forty percent of high-risk current and former smokers are not planning on getting screened for lung cancer. The main reason those at high risk are not getting screened might surprise you - their doctor never recommended it. Through LUNG FORCE, the Lung Association is working to change this and save lives.
LUNG FORCE, which is nationally presented by CVS Health, is the American Lung Association’s nationwide movement to defeat lung cancer. During November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month, we want to turn the potential to save lives into a reality by raising awareness about lung cancer and screening through a low-dose CT scan. This is also why, in partnership with the Ad Council, we launched “Saved By The Scan.” This public awareness campaign urges everyone to learn more about lung cancer screening, and take a lung cancer screening eligibility quiz to find out if they or someone they love should talk to their physician about getting screened.
You can help. To turn the tide against lung cancer, we need everyone’s help to spread the word about lung cancer and the availability of screening for those at high risk. Here are four key points everyone should know – and share – about lung cancer screening:
1. Lung cancer screening can save lives. A low-dose CT scan is the only tool that can reduce lung cancer mortality rates for those at high risk. The scan is painless and quick. If you’re a current or former smoker over the age of 55, you could be at risk and should talk to your doctor about screening.
2. Screening is not recommended for everyone. Screening is only recommended for those considered at high risk for lung cancer. To learn more about your risk, take the lung cancer screening eligibility quiz at SavedByTheScan.org and speak to your doctor.
3. We need to spread the word about screening. Screening can save lives. In fact, if only half of the 9 million Americans at high risk for lung cancer got screened, thousands of lives could be saved. But, according to our Lung Health Barometer, 84 percent of those who are eligible are unfamiliar with the low-dose CT scan.
4. Screening is covered by insurance. Lung cancer screening is now covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans for those considered at high risk. That means that this potentially lifesaving procedure is available to most people who are eligible at no cost.
Lung cancer screening is the key to catching the disease early, when it’s more curable. This Lung Cancer Awareness Month – and all year long – let’s spread the word, because awareness and screening save lives. Together, we can turn the tide against lung cancer.